Lagoon, Jan 2020

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Regular readers of our sightings reports may recall that the resident pack of five wild dogs denned at the beginning of December. Although the female gave birth to a single pup, it appears that it did not survive because by January the pack were nomadic once again. This outcome was disappointing, but not a great surprise because it would be rare for a puppy born so out of season to thrive. We were able to follow them as they hunted for impala and zebra.

The Northern pride of lions were hunting successfully; their target prey included wildebeest, zebra and warthog. One time we saw them feeding and, unusually, the two males let the lioness finish off a zebra foal, even though they looked hungry themselves. A lioness with three sub-adult cubs was seen frequently, including on a fresh elephant calf kill. One time we saw a lioness moving her three new born cubs to a new den, carrying them in her mouth. We were watching a lion pride and noticed a sub-adult male looking pointedly in a certain direction. The lion was moving its tail side to side and he started growling before racing into a charge. We followed him and noticed two figures disappearing off into the distance as two cheetahs ran for their lives. We tracked the cheetahs and eventually they relaxed and went back to marking their posts.

These two cheetahs were the resident coalition of two brothers who. During the month we found them ambushing zebra to target their foals, retreating to rest under the Kalahari apple-leaf trees as the day warmed up. Another time we saw them marking their territory and chasing around some giraffes. They were also seen hunting eland calves. After the clash with the lion they moved deeper south towards Lebala camp.

A female brown hyena was seen at the entrance of the den site on the Munhumutapa Islands. We also saw her running close to the river.

Very good general game in the area included big herds of eland, zebra, wildebeest, sable, kudu, red lechwe, buffalo and giraffe. There was a lovely herd of seventeen roan antelope including three calves. Elephants were seen in big numbers. One time we were lucky enough to come across a wildebeest giving birth.

A spotted hyena was seen running away with the carcass of a young zebra. We also saw another hyena feeding on the skin of an old giraffe carcass. The skin had been soaked by rain, making it easier to eat and digest.

We came across aardwolves foraging for termites during night drive. Bat-eared foxes were also in feasting on the termite alates that emerged after the rains; we saw three different families of foxes near to their den sites. Both black-backed and side-striped jackals were denning and we were abel to enjoy sightings of the pups. During night drive, we came across a family of genets with three small cubs. We were able to watch an African wild cat hunting for rodents and birds. Other smaller mammals located included dwarf mongoose, slender mongoose and bush babies.

A resident female leopard showed good signs of being pregnant. We saw her a couple of times as she was marking her territory, climbing trees and visiting waterholes. A rather skittish tom was also located.

We saw a fantastic feeding frenzy of many birds hawking for flying termites; species included tawny eagles, bateleurs, lesser-spotted eagles, Wahlberg’s eagles, swallows and bee-eaters. A pride of 24 ostrich were located as they grazed. Other notable bird sightings included wattled cranes, secretary birds, slaty egrets, Verreaux’s eagle owls, martial eagles, ground hornbills and European rollers.

(Note: Accompanying picture is from our Kwando Photo Library which consists of all your great photo submissions over the years, it may not be the most up to date, but we felt it was worthy of a feature alongside this month’s Sightings Report!)

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